How does one say goodbye to an author who has accompanied so many of us to sea on hundreds of voyages, whose dog-eared paperbacks have sat by the captain's chair on the bridge of so many warships for long days and nights in the Mediterranean, the Western Pacific, the Caribbean, and the Persian Gulf?
The passing of Patrick O'Brian represents a moment of very real loss for the naval profession. Over the course of his 85 years, he produced what many believe is the very best series of novels written about life at sea in naval combatants. His masterful Aubrey and Maturin series, comprising 20 volumes, is perhaps the greatest sustained work of historical fiction ever written, far exceeding—by every measure—the better-known Hornblower series by C.S. Forester. Some enthusiasts would even rank his work with that of Homer, an accolade the modest O'Brian instantly would have rejected—but secretly treasured.